Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Dentistry
Emergency Dentist Questions

Emergency Dentistry FAQs

See Me Smile Emergency Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions

At See Me Smile Dental, we know how uncomfortable and disruptive a dental emergency can be. Thankfully, we always keep appointment times open for emergency patients, so we can see you right away, and ease your pain as quickly as possible.

What Is a Dental Emergency?

Dental injuries and unexpected tooth or gum pain can happen to anyone. The best way to determine whether or not you need to schedule an emergency dental appointment is to call us and tell us what you're experiencing. Below are some common issues that often require an emergency appointment.

Dental Pain:

If you're experiencing acute dental pain, give us a call as soon as you notice any discomfort. The longer you wait, the more you risk infection, and the more painful it may become.

Broken, Cracked, or Chipped Tooth:

A tooth may break due to an accident or injury, or because it's been weakened due to decay. Don't wait to call us about a broken tooth. Acting quickly can prevent dental pain, infection, and further breakdown of the tooth.

If the tooth is chipped and the chip is small, we can smooth the chip. If it's a larger fracture, we can place some composite material on the tooth to restore the structure. If the tooth is broken or cracked, you may need a dental crown to restore the structure of the tooth. If that's the case, we'll either place a temporary filling or temporary crown to hold you over until a crown preparation appointment can be scheduled.

Lost Temporary Crown:

It may not seem like a big deal - especially if you aren't experiencing any sensitivity. However, if a lost temporary crown isn't replaced, the tooth can start to shift. If it shifts enough, your permanent, lab fabricated crown likely won't fit. You'll need new impressions and a new crown will need to be made. When you call our office about a lost temporary crown, we can help determine how quickly you need to be seen.

In most cases, we can simply create another temporary crown for you!

Broken or Lost Filling:

Fillings can sometimes break, crack, or dislodge when we bite down on something hard, chew something sticky, or if there's decay under or around the filling. A broken filling leaves the tooth vulnerable to further decay and infection and should be examined and repaired as quickly as possible.

It may be necessary to place a temporary filling at your emergency dental appointment, or we may be able to replace the filling with no further treatment needed.

Knocked-Out Tooth:

Trauma to the face can sometimes result in losing a permanent tooth. Seeing your Santa Barbara emergency dentist right away can improve the chances of saving the tooth.

When you come in with a tooth that's been knocked out, we will evaluate the damage to the gums and tooth. The tooth may be able to be replanted. You'll need to return for follow-up treatment, especially if you're experiencing bruising or bleeding that inhibits treatment on the day of the accident.

Inflamed Gums:

Gum inflammation is one of the first symptoms of gum disease. It could also be a sign of illness or a foreign object stuck in the gums. Call us so that we can determine the severity of the problem and get you scheduled for an appointment.

When gums are inflamed due to a foreign object, we'll remove it. However, if the cause is gum disease, we'll create a treatment plan that includes a deep cleaning and possibly antibiotic treatment.

Facial Swelling:

Swelling can be caused by many things including trauma, infection, or a TMJ disorder flare-up. By examining your swelling in our office, we can rule out serious causes and provide you with instructions that will help reduce swelling.

Depending on the cause of the swelling, we may recommend an ice pack and ibuprofen or prescribe antibiotics.


Bleeding can be a sign of gum disease, infection, mouth ulcers, or other serious health conditions. Call our office to determine whether or not the bleeding that you're experiencing is an emergency.


Swelling of the gums, tooth discomfort, or a painful lump under the gum may all be symptoms of infection.

During your appointment, we will be able to determine if the infection is caused by decay, gum disease, or a foreign object (like a popcorn kernel in your gums). We'll address the cause, creating a short- and long-term treatment plan. Then, we'll prescribe antibiotics to help mitigate the infection.

What Should I Do When I Experience a Dental Emergency?

Don't hesitate if you are experiencing a dental emergency. Contact See Me Smile Dental right away! Letting us know as soon as a problem starts prevents complications and allows us to make recommendations based on our experience and your health. Call (805) 284-0826 or request an emergency dental appointment using our contact form on our Emergency Dentist page.

What Should I Do if My Tooth Gets Knocked Out?

After you've contacted your Santa Barbara dentist (we need to see you as soon as possible), take the following steps.

  • Avoid handling the tooth by the root
  • Rinse the tooth with warm water to remove dirt/debris
  • Don't scrub the tooth
  • Wrap the tooth in gauze or a cloth
  • Put the covered tooth in milk or a saline solution
What's Involved in an Emergency Dentistry Appointment?

It really depends on the cause of the emergency, but in most cases, especially if you have pain or swelling, we'll take an x-ray in addition to examining your teeth and gums during your emergency dental appointment.